The Orville: New Horizons Pushes Release Back To June 2

Stroudsburg Herald
Seth McFarlane by Gage Skidmore

The Orville is coming back this summer after Hulu (who took over the show from Fox since season two aired in 2019) has just announced a change from its planned March release date. For that keep score, or, for even those who might have a memory of what the show is: there hasn’t been an episode of this show since April of 2019. That’s a very long time since the last episode, and while many might have thought this rather niche show was likely canceled, a third season has been in the works for some time. The production, however, was hit particularly hard thanks to Covid since the show uses mostly standing sets and thus has both actors and extras in prosthetic makeup, which require more close contact than a lot of other shows. When production resumed last fall, Hulu released a teaser trailer that announced the show would return in March. Last week, Hulu announced that the show would be moving to June, as March would have seen heavy competition from shows in a similar genre like Halo and Star Trek Picard, for starters. As part of the announcement, the streaming service has dropped the cold open for the first episode of the season (a great space battle/ dream sequence) and the new opening title sequence for the show, now called The Orville: New Horizons.

The Orville, created by Seth MacFarlane in 2017, was immediately placed in a “box” by the media: it’s just a “Galaxy Quest” television show. Or: “It’s “Star Trek meets Family Guy.” Yet, it was more than either of these two descriptions and was, for all intents and purposes, a homage and tribute to Star Trek: The Next Generation, telling stories that were just as much about the lives and relationships of the crewmembers as it was about some of the situations that would be encountered on alien worlds. Fans called it a worthy follow-up to the classic style of Star Trek storytelling. It’s nostalgic for feeling much like a Star Trek show but was free from having to fit into the canon. Recent shows that are officially part of the Star Trek franchise, like Star Trek Discovery, have alienated many of the franchise’s core fans by stretching or perhaps even breaking canon. The Orville has been able to celebrate the kinds of stories and use the kinds of characters that Star Trek has used while being free of the canon; it not only has created a few new races, but it can poke light fun of aspects of Star Trek that shows like Discovery cannot. The show is surprisingly smart: for example, an episode from the first season has the crew visiting what might be called “Twitter Planet,” a world whose society is very much like our own but is run strictly by popular opinion, and trending upvotes and downvotes determine a person’s status in the community. This kind of analogous storytelling, which really made the original Star Trek series from the 60s and its first few spin-offs stand out, is not as prevalent in the more recent official Star Trek offerings.

The Orville: New Horizons is bound to continue the trend into intelligent storytelling. A lot of effort has gone into rebuilding the standing sets at its new production home and tweaking all of the designs to make it look like something extraordinary. The opening title sequence for New Horizons is beautiful and suggests a show with a far more vast scope than the first two seasons.

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